By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) shared yet another success story of collaboration with Indian private industries, with the release of the Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) System in Bangalore on Wednesday. Designed and developed by the Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), the IFF system is a spin-off product of India's Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) programme. CABS began the design and development of IFF for the AEW&C project in 2004.
Military sources tell Express that the need for IFF systems was projected in large numbers by the Tri-Services and DRDO pitched in with the idea of mass production by transferring the technology (ToT) to the private industries. “We were using the IFF systems manufactured by HAL Hyderabad and BEL. It was in 2010 we projected the need in large numbers following the Defence Acquisition Council nod and agreed to their (DRDO) proposal,” sources said.
DRDO on its part short-listed Chennai-based Data Patterns and Bangalore-based Alpha Design Technologies for the mass-production of the units, based on the IPR of CABS design. The IFF is a system required in all aircraft and is widely known as a secondary surveillance radar (SSR), when used onboard a commercial platform. In a military theater, the transponder and interrogator of the unit helps to decode encrypted signals, thereby helping to identify whether the sender or receiver is a friend or foe.
Sources say that depending upon the size of the fighter, the IFF units also differs. “In a large platform like an AEW&C, the IFF consists of separate transponder and interrogator units, while for fighter planes it comes as a combined package. The IFF system will be a standard-fit on all unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in future, if they need to use civilian air space,” sources said. DRDO chief V K Saraswat released the production version of IFF in Bangalore on Wednesday.
An Indian Air Force (IAF) official predicts that the three arm of Services would need a total of 3,000 IFF systems in future. “This could be not an immediate requirement, but likely to be spread over the next 4-5 years. Each IFF unit costs around Rs 1 crore. It is an evolving product,” he says. A South African firm is said to have shown interest in marketing DRDO's IFF systems internationally, details the official refused to part with.
AEW&C arriving in July: India’s eye-in-the-sky AEW&C platform (EMB-145I) is scheduled for an official touchdown this July. Sources say that the platform would first arrive at Jamnagar Air Base enroute to its destination in Bangalore for system integration. The plane had its first official flight on December 7 (2011), in Brazil.
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